Company: Sega
Model #:
Ron J. Fortier
Year: 1984
One of the rarest Atari 5200 releases


Port of the 1982 Sega arcade game, Zaxxon is a isometric side scrolling shooter that was pretty ground breaking upon its release.  Not only was it the first game to employ an isometric view, but it was also first video game to have a TV commercial.  Zaxxon was a smash hit for Sega and was quickly ported to many home consoles and computers.  The less powerful consoles (Atari 2600 and Intellivision) ditched the isometric view and went for a standard overhead view, while most other systems tried to simulate the isometric view to varying degrees of success.  While Coleco eventually released an enhanced port for their new ADAM computer which added new stages to the game, the most impressive port may be for the lowly TRS-80 which managed to faithfully reproduce the game with the isometric view on monochrome hardware that didn't support any high resolution graphics.


In Zaxxon you control a ship that must make its way through two different space fortresses and destroy the evil robot Zaxxon.  As Zaxxon uses an isometric view, the player must move their ship in three dimensions which can be fairly challenging at first.  Thankfully the game has an altimeter which shows you how high you ship is currently flying, and provides a convenient shadow which helps the player determine exactly where on the screen they are.  While flying through each fortress the player must avoid being shot by guns and missiles while constantly managing their fuel supply.  Fuel can only be restored by shooting fuel tanks scattered throughout each fortress.  Each fortress is also guarded by a high wall with a gap that must be flown through.  This gap gets smaller and smaller on each successive loop.


After clearing the first fortress, the player must attempt destroy a set number of ships in open space before they reach the second fortress (the game will eventually proceed though even if you don't destroy them all).  In the second fortress the player must deal with force fields which require the ship to be at a specific altitude to pass through.  There's no indication as to what the correct altitude is other than than the player will notice that their shots are safely passing through the force field when they've reached the correct height.  After passing through several different force fields the player finally meets up with Zaxxon who will shoot his homing missile if they don't destroy him fast enough.  While it is possible to dodge this missile, it usually means certain death.


The Atari 5200 version of Zaxxon is fair.  The graphics look nice, but it can be a bit too hard to tell where you are in this version.  This port also has a nerfed encounter with Zaxxon as he simply stands still and lets you blast him (he will eventually fire his missile however).  However the biggest problem with this port is the buggy collision detection.  Due to bugs in how collision is calculated the player can be destroyed even if they're no where near an enemy.  This makes an already tough game even tougher.  Thankfully intrepid coders have fixed these bugs and made this port what it always should have been.  I  highly recommend finding this fixed version instead of playing the original.

Version Cart Text Description
?/??/84 Zaxxon By Sega Atari 5200/sample Copy 189
Final Version


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